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John Adams: new CD of Son of Chamber Symphony & String Quartet

(June 2011)

The latest John Adams release on the Nonesuch label features Son of Chamber Symphony and his recent String Quartet.

Two of John Adams’s most recent works, Son of Chamber Symphony and String Quartet, have just been released on a new Nonesuch disc featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) conducted by the composer and the St Lawrence String Quartet (7559 798 008).

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Son of Chamber Symphony has received 70 performances since its premiere in 2007, following in the footsteps of the first Chamber Symphony as one of Adams’s most programmed works. Set in three movements, the first pays tribute to the dancing energy of Beethoven’s scherzos, while the second pits elegiac hypermelodies against strumming accompaniments. The finale was described by the Los Angeles Times at its premiere as “one of those Adams bucking-bronco blastoffs, riveting and full of surprises”.

The St Lawrence String Quartet has toured Adams’s String Quartet extensively since its premiere two years ago, with over 40 performances on three continents. This is the composer’s second full-length work for string quartet, but whereas John’s Book of Alleged Dances also employed recorded samples, the newer quartet is for the classic acoustic line-up. The Guardian described how “it is the constant trade between the machine-like aspect and the fragile sparks of something more human that elevate the music and its players”.

As well as further tours of the String Quartet, the St Lawrence players feature in the world premiere next season of Absolute Jest, a new Adams work for quartet and orchestra commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony for its Centennial Season and by Carnegie Hall. The first performance in San Francisco is conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas on 15 March 2012 as part of the American Mavericks festival. The new work then tours with the San Francisco Symphony to Chicago, Ann Arbor and New York and performances are planned by European orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in the 2012/13 season.

> Further information on Work: Son of Chamber Symphony

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